I woke up this morning and, like every morning, the first thing that I do to get the news is check my social network. Garbage on Facebook, as usual, and then some tech-y stuff on twitter, followed by sprinkles of the NY Times in the early parts of the month when I still have free access.
Today, I came across an article about Ron Shaich, the CEO of Panera Bread, and his self-imposed “challenge” to live off of food stamps (the SNAP program). He suggests that it is something that will bring awareness to the problem of food stamps and nutrition in America. You can read the entire article here.
I’ll give the guy the benefit of the doubt and acknowledge that he may actually be trying to bring awareness to the cause but, in the same breath, it seems a lot like a project in how the other half lives. Let’s not forget that the guy is the CEO of a major restaurant chain. He knows that no matter what happens, no matter how hungry he gets, no matter how many chickpeas (I mean, how bourgeois can you be? Eating chickpeas, lemon, and EVOO while on food stamps? Come on.) he has to eat for lunch every day, his family is still set for life.
He went to the supermarket and found the best product mix that he could, in order to sustain himself for the next grueling week of chauffeur driven cars and 1000 thread count sheets. He has to see if he can make it on just 1200 calories a day, while he watches the rest of his family eat like royalty (this is an assumption, but I don’t think I’m far off). It’s not really a challenge if you don’t see your kids go hungry or ask for another bowl of shitty cereal- especially when you have to deny their request in order for them to eat tomorrow.
The problem in this country is not that food stamps are inadequate for one people to feed him or herself for a week. It’s an ongoing problem that REAL families face and it’s not just one person in the family, it’s the entire family. It’s not just for a week, it’s potentially for a lifetime.
It’s a fun experiment to see How the Other Half Lives, but is that what we really need in this country? Maybe he should start giving away his average soup in gluey bread bowls, instead of claiming that he had to buy “stick to your bones” items at the poor people’s supermarket.